A Student of Weather - Elizabeth Hay

A Student of Weather was today’s choice read to recover from travel, jet lag, and the unpacking and laundry tasks that come with it.

I had high hopes for the novel: It’s set during the 1930s in depression-hit dust bowls of Saskatchewan and the New York of the 1960s, and it’s by a Canadian author.

The last one, the Canadian factor, may have worked against the book. I’m only half kidding. I love Canadian writing. However, I am also reminded of Will and Ian Ferguson’s summary of the Canadian literary novel (found in How to be a Canadian):

“Handy tip! Write about a family gathering, a funeral or some sort of homecoming. That’s the easiest way to bring characters together without having to construct a plot. And make sure to include the free-spirited sister, the recovering alcoholic brother, the other sister (the one who gave up on her dreams and is married to an abusive and/or aloof man) and – last but not least – the standard-issue abusive and/or aloof father figure. Add to the mix some cryptic dialogue about a past betrayal, maybe a dark secret or two, and half-bake at 40F. Do you see how these things just write themselves?”

The thing is, my assessment of every Canadian novel I have read since the Fergusons’ above summary has started with a categorisation: either the book fits the description or it doesn’t.

The ones that didn’t fit the Fergusons’ description were, on the whole, much more enjoyable and interesting reads.

Sadly, A Student of Weather fits the above description to a T (except there was no recovering alcoholic brother, tho there was a brother who died early on… I am counting this as half a point.). What is even sadder, is that I could not find any other aspect that made this book compelling or that kept me from skim-reading some parts.

It didn’t help that the centre premise of the book is based on a love triangle that features some selfish asshat of a guy and two sisters who fight over his affections (which are always engaged elsewhere and for some reason the sisters just cannot see it)… Ugh.

The writing, tho, was very accomplished and I do look forward to trying the other book by Hay on Mt. TBR, Late Nights on Air.

Seriously, if that one also has a love triangle in it, I will DNF it faster than than I can type out the book title.


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